Monthly Archives: November 2013

Tin, tin, tins…

I love old tins.

I love finding them and I love storing things in them and I especially love finding them with things already in them.

Old tings-zippers

This one is from my childhood home – it looks old timey, but was from the 1970s or ’80s… which sadly, might in fact be old timey to some.

I don’t remember the marshmallows, but I like marshmallows.

It is perfect for the storage of zippers and various purse/bag hardware.

Old things-needles

This was a lucky thrift store find of a tin with something in it – mostly needles and a lovely bent-to-fit sterling thimble.  I use the needles from time to time but get pissed when I don’t realize I have a rusty one until it leaves a mark in my fabric.

Old things-needles close

Also inside are some nice bone tapestry needles – I think?  And a “Tyton” tool at the bottom.  Anybody know what that is?  All I get is a Polish football (soccer) player.

Old things-spools

This tin came from a thrift store and was probably $ .50 or less.  I think I bought it when I only had $ .50 in my pocket.  It previously held fruitcake from New Orleans.  I thought you got sh*tfaced in New Orleans, not hang around and eat hard cake.  But I guess you have to “feed” fruitcake with brandy or rum or something…. that could explain it.

Old things-spools-close

But the loveliness inside is my collection of vintage thread.  I got the thread way back when at my old favorite thrift store in a dusty old bag (perhaps once actually belonging to a dusty old bag of another sort).  One day I may frame some of these in a shadow box of some sort, but I do use a teensy bit of them from time to time since the colors are wonderful and often match my clothing in need of repair.  And good god, I love wooden spools.  I know it’s a waste of a tree but they serve so many purposes after their intended one and just look finely aged and patinated on their own.

Old things-floss

This is an estate sale find of a tin with something in it.  I was excited to find this small stash of embroidery floss until its horrid camphor odor assaulted my sniffer.  I got it anyway, cleaned and aired the tin, aired the floss, and thought it was good to go.  I added a few odds and ends of my own floss too.

Sadly, it still smells.

Tins - bon bons whole

And finally, the loveliest tin of them all, and the one I uncharacteristically paid the most for – I believe it was a whopping $12.

But $12 is no longer an insignificant amount of money to me, and I feel pressure to put something priceless and special inside of it instead of the tiny yarn balls and clippings currently in there.

Tins - bon bons

Maybe I should have a candy while I think about it.

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Filed under home decor, recycling, sewing, thrifting

Of veggie weenies and small epiphanies

The growing season has ended for my mutant anthropomorphic vegetable friends.

carrotman

I think a mandrake got a bit randy in the carrot patch…

I’ve been struggling with that large quilt since the summer.

But no longer. 

Though I thankfully received some helpful suggestions on how to finish it in my limited workspace, I still didn’t want to deal with it.  But then I had a head-smacking moment when I realized it didn’t have to be a quilt.  I wanted it to be a functional bed covering to fully realize its concept, but it made no difference whether it was a quilt, or a coverlet, or a comforter, or a duvet cover.  I am loudly sighing with relief.  Though I also went to 13 stores (even thrifts) trying to find a cheap comforter that I could use as filler instead of spending an ungodly amount on 4 or 5 layers of high-loft batting and failed to find one in my budget.  So duvet cover it became out of thrift, necessity, and for the sake of my sanity.

Most of the other things I’ve been working on are finally coming together as well – it will be a welcome relief to stop thinking about the things I’ve been thinking about for the last few months.  So now I’m allowing myself to fall backwards into a bottomless [happy] pit of multiple projects.

My vacation knitting socks are further along, and might even conclude by the end of the year.

nostalgiasockmonster

I’ve gathered some acorns to use as dye (still no luck finding a tree infested with galls).

acorns

While I was in the woods, I saw several really cool vine yarns.

woods-vines

And I’ve started a couple of gifts for upcoming birthdays and holidays.

strelka-start

But thankfully I do not fully participate in most holidays apart from cooking and eating (mostly just the eating) so I have none of the pressure that others do to complete x projects in x time for people who might not want/like that hat, pair of socks, scarf, pillow, toy anyway.

As some may say, woot!

Or yippee!

Or hell yeah!

Or yee hah!

Or the excitement is so short-lived it will be over by the time I finish shouting.

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Lana blu

I think I’ve gotten all of the post-vacation brain fog and re-adjustment whining and rambling out of my system.

Abruzzo-clouds

I’ve spent the last week attending a training session and conference in my field, a grad school open house, and doing some networking.  I’ve been getting up at an ungodly hour to take trains to the nearby cities.  It almost felt like I was working again, but  it also made me feel lucky to work the few hours I do from home – I haven’t really seen daylight apart from a quick lunchtime walk for the last few days.  I’m a terrible commuter too – knitting, reading, and doing anything other than staring out of the window on buses and trains gives me motion sickness, so I spend the majority of the time fidgeting and stewing about how much time is being wasted.

But on to more important things, like wool.

A few posts ago, I wrote about meeting Valeria last year in Italy and buying her yarn.  And quite luckily, I was able to meet with her, and fellow fiberphile Antontella again this year.  You can read more about the Damiani Ovid and AquiLANA wool business in one of her recent posts here (Google translator is your friend).  She showed me many new yarns she’s produced this year – from delicate laceweights, to a gorgeous drapey one-ply fingering, to multiple plies in increasing weights up to bulky, and including a one-ply bulky that would probably felt/full quite well.   Luckily for her, she’s sold a good portion of the year’s stock (and for me or I’d spend myself into ruin) so I stuck to only a few skeins of the yarn in the new weights, and more of the aran/bulky I got last year in case I want to do some colorwork.

So when I say colorwork, I mean one color would be this intense lovely shade of blue – the exact color of the mountain sky.

lana

I’ve shied away from blue in the past – it’s one of those colors that I don’t like in the lightest or darkest shades, or in an “electric” form.  But it is also a color I’ve been gravitating to more and more in the past couple of years.  And I love that I have the creamy wool from the colors of the earth and sheep and now the blue wool of the sky.  Even better, the yarn is dyed naturally from Guado (Woad).

Abruzzo-octogonchurch

This trip was all about the blue sky – perfect weather and intense clarity day after day (at least after the first day which had an intense stormy sky that didn’t amount to much.)

plant with butterfly

And several of the alpine plants are blue too (along with the butterfly).  This one is Cardo, a thistle – perhaps also known as Sea Holly – it makes a yellow dye.

Abruzzo-blue door

And the ubiquitous old door – I wish I had a dollar for everyone who “just loves to shoot doors.”  I like old doors too, but I’m not out to make a calendar or something.  But I saw that the faded blue paint was the same color as my new yarn and had to snap it.

Abruzzo-bluebottle

And one of my trusty water bottles and favorite wool zippered jacket/sweater thing are blue too.

Abruzzo-Vasto

And though we haven’t seen it since our first Abruzzo trip in 2008, the Adriatic hugs the region’s eastern boundary, so the blue reminds me of the sea as well.

Valeria also showed me some gorgeous caramel colored yarn and the oak galls she used to dye it – she recently posted about it here too.  I got a couple of natural laceweight skeins with the thought of trying to dye it up myself with galls as well, though perhaps I’ll have to use black walnut since now that I’m looking for oak galls, I can’t find any – perhaps suburban pesticides keep the wasps away?

abruzzo-yarn

The other three blue skeins are a heavy fingering to sport weight.

yarn-laquilana

And along with the aran/bulky skeins, I’m thinking about some hats, or a shawl, or there might even be enough to eek out a short-sleeved lace pullover…

But whatever it might become, the yarn will certainly remind me of the amazing land, people, history, and animals from which it came.

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[Jet] lagging…

I made it to 5:12 a.m. this morning and feel triumphant!  Then I realized it was daylight savings,* so the jet lag beast has been tossed a scrap and is still pacing a bit around the room.  No more middle of the night pancake dinners/breakfasts though, but the last one was quite tasty with the last of our White Mountain edible souvenirs.

pancakes

My brain is still buzzy and unfocused and my body mildly flu-like.  I came home with mountain legs as firm as two well-aged prosciutti, but now they’re returning to their younger non-dead jiggly piglet state.  My body and mind are out of synch with my reality and just want to put one foot in front of the other until a pleasing distance and vista and lunch spot have been reached.

murder on the mountain **

I know it is incredibly pretentious, but I feel more culture shock returning to the U. S. rather than being outside of it (at least in the European bits).  Americans weigh too much, they are sick, they are loud, they drive enormous machines, they wheel enormous luggage, they can be demanding of bedraggled clerks and service workers, their children are wild, and worst of all, they build and live in suburbs – vast expanses of land without sidewalks or farms – utterly purposeless and ugly.

But this is where I was born and legally reside and thanks to N we can leave it once in awhile.

But I’m also just another American wishing she could eat, pray, love (mostly the eating part) under the Tuscan (I’d prefer Abruzzo) sun.  But there are a few things in Italy (and probably Europe in general) that are downright magical that even more increase my desire to stay.

  Dairy.  I have dairy issues in the states – I don’t know if it is lactose or casein or something else, but even when I get the organic grass-fed hoity-toity localish stuff here, I can have problems.  I can tolerate milk, ice cream, cream, etc., about 15% of the time here, so I usually just forgo anything not aged or fermented – cheese and yogurt are ok-ish.  In Italy, I have about a 99% tolerance rate – the only bad dairy experience I’ve had there was from a mediocre cream-based pasta sauce at an even more mediocre tourist trap restaurant in Rome a few years ago.  So I load up on the stuff while I’m there – cappuccino, gelato, cream sauces, oh yeah!  And of course cheese – I especially love the sheep and goat stuff – pecorino dolce, ricotta di capra, caciocavallo etc., etc., etc….

 Allergies.  I barely have them there, and leave behind my constant ropey mucous companion dangling down my throat here.  That probably has a straightforward reason about the different climate and fewer useless expanses of lawns and less proliferation of non-native species with their companion herbicides and pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

So now that I’ve established that my brain is broken, my body atrophying, my nose dripping, and I’m suffering from a vague yogurt induced gut cramp, I must mention fiber – specifically my travel knitting.

I started the first pair of socks since my sock knitting debacle months ago.  Again, my sock mojo is off – I used a bit bigger yarn on my preferred shorty wood needles with my 64 stitch vanilla pattern, thinking it would firm things up and be ok, but they’re big – baggy ankle big.  But I don’t give a damn and still have to finish the leg parts, so I can firm up the upper ribbed section.  I’m constructing them in a strange fashion, but it makes sense in my head and should allow me to use up all the yarn.  I’ve dubbed them my “Nostalgia Socks” as the color reminds me of old quilts, 1970s sweaters, and now my trip.

sock in progress

The colors in this pic are wrong, but accurately portray the weak blue light that just barely stretched down to our nearly subterranean Italian apartment.

nostalgia socksThis is how the color should look – and if you look closely you can see one of the two knots I’ve found so far.

And remember my giddiness over Pigeonroof Studios Mimsy BFL roving?  And even more over the Hitchhiker pattern? I can call it a finished project now since I shoved it in my bag at the last minute.  It was one of those that ended sooner than I was ready to finish, and previously I only let myself knit a few rows here and there as a reward for meeting some goals on my portfolio pieces.  Ok, I may have over-rewarded myself, but this is my favorite handspun yarn to date – the softness and drape are wonderful (if I do say so myself) but most of that is due to the inherent qualities of the fiber itself.

Mimsyhiker on wall

My yardage was less than the suggested amount and I used bigger needles, so I didn’t quite make it to the original 42 points.  Mine is 41 1/2 – instead of a half a point, I just made the last one wider.  I watched 42 on the plane over and hoped I could have that numerical reference as well, but I didn’t quite make the team.

Mimsyhiker & acquedotto

Mimsyhiker & biscotto

I finished it in the first few days we were there, so I was able to wear it again and again and again – it’s finally taking a rest drying from a light blocking to stretch it out a little.

As for acquisitions, I bought some cheap (but ugly) sock yarn, and some cheap (but lovely) mohair in the market.

But of course I bought more of the real thing.

yarn-laquilana

It deserves a post of its own next time.

* Daylight savings happened in Italy last weekend.  We spent a day wondering why none of the cafes were opened when they should have been, rushed to return the rental car when we didn’t have to hurry, and even left for the airport an hour before we needed to – but none of it was the problem it would have been in the spring.

** I love this picture that N took – in the camera it appeared that I had been steamrolled, but now it looks more like a Nancy Drew book jacket for “Murder on the Mountain.”  I love sleeping on mountains – some bedroom designer should get on that – forget beds – rig up a soft inclined meadow and mimic warm sun and chilly breezes in a room instead.

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Filed under hiking, home decor, knitting, spinning, travel